AELE LAW LIBRARY OF CASE SUMMARIES:
Corrections Law
for Jails, Prisons and Detention Facilities


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Prisoner Transportation

     An inmate suffering from a neurological condition was able to ambulate, stand, and sit with the assistance of crutches and leg braces. No doctor had ordered a wheelchair for him, or that he be transported via a wheelchair-accessible van. He arrived for transport to a medical appointment with neither a wheelchair or a physician's order. A wheelchair accessible van with a lift was available, but standing on the lift was forbidden because of the risk of falling. The prisoner claimed that he had to enter the van by crawling, exposing him to urine and vomit on the floor, that he was unable to eat while traveling, and that during his return trip the driver stopped the vehicle near a ridge and said that guards could drown him and claim he tried to escape. The prisoner further claimed that when he filed a grievance over these events, prison staff members retaliated against him with verbal abuse, ransacked his cell, and transported him in a non-wheelchair-accessible van for part of the trip when he was moved to another prison. A federal appeals court rejected Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment claims, as well as disability discrimination and retaliation claims. The record did not support his argument that he had an objectively serious medical need requiring the use of a wheelchair-accessible van. Even if the van conditions were unsanitary, he was exposed to them for only approximately six hours on a single occasion, and the one time single sentence alleged threat by the driver was insufficient to show a constitutional violation. The prisoner failed to provide sufficient evidence that the subsequent actions allegedly taken against him were retaliatory. Turner v. Mull, #14-1589, 784 F.3d 485 (8th Cir. 2015).
      Two handcuffed juveniles were being transported from a court hearing in a vehicle driven by a deputy. Seated in the back, they suffered multiple injuries when the transport van collided with another vehicle because the other driver allegedly turned into an intersection without yielding the right of way. The Colorado Supreme Court held that injury claims against the county should have been dismissed as allegations of mere negligence were insufficient to overcome a statutory grant of immunity on such claims or the presumption of good faith granted to law enforcement. Young v. Jefferson County, #13SA216, 2014 Colo. Lexis 1, 2014 CO 1.
    Persons civilly committed to a state sex offender program failed to show that their rights were violated by the use of restraints during transport, or unclothed visual body searches. The searches were justified by institutional security concerns, and the policy of restraining sex offenders during transport was a valid exercise of professional judgment. There was no evidence that the defendants were deliberately indifferent to the plaintiffs' health, safety, and sanitation concerns. There was also no showing that the alleged improper opening of their legal mail interfered with their access to the court or that monitoring their phone calls was not justified by security concerns. Beaulieu v. Ludeman, #111845, 690 F.3d 1017 (8th Cir.)
     An inmate was thrown from his seat and injured while being transported to a medical facility in shackles on a bus that was not equipped with seat belts. The failure to provide such seat belts, standing alone, does not violate the Eighth or Fourteenth Amendments. Providing such seat belts in vehicles transporting prisoners could involve security and safety concerns, even if it is reasonable to provide them in vehicles transporting the general public. A correctional facility could withhold providing seatbelts for legitimate penological reasons without an intent to punish. The plaintiff also failed to show that the defendants knew of, yet disregarded, an excessive risk to prisoner safety. Jabbar v. Fischer, #113765, 2012 U.S. App. Lexis 12747 (2nd Cir.).
     A pretrial detainee sued, claiming that an officer violated his constitutional rights by transporting him in a dog cage in a K-9 vehicle during a 90-minute trip to the county courthouse. A federal appeals court found that the defendant officer was not entitled to summary judgment on the basis of qualified immunity because, based on the totality of the circumstances, the decision to transport the detainee in this manner, if true, violated contemporary concepts of dignity, civilized standards, "humanity, and decency." This should have been obvious to the officer based on both prior case law and "common sense." Morris v. Zefferi, #08-3141, 2010 U.S. App. Lexis 7514 (8th Cir.).
    A woman died after being placed in four-point restraints and put into a vehicle face down for transport to jail. Upholding summary judgment for the defendant deputies and county in a federal civil rights lawsuit, the court, assuming the facts in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, assumed that the decedent died from positional asphyxia. The plaintiffs, however, failed to show that the use of the restraints was unnecessary, or excessively disproportionate to the resistance the deputies faced from the prisoner, so that no reasonable jury could have found that the deputies used excessive force to subdue her. The plaintiff also failed to sufficiently prove a claim for alleged inadequate monitoring of the prisoner during transport. Loggins v. Carroll County, Mississippi, #08-60516, 2009 U.S. App. Lexis 23730 (5th Cir.).
     An inmate transported by a private company from Illinois to Florida pursuant to extradition alleged that he suffered injuries during the transport because he was placed in a cage smaller than a dog crate, he was handcuffed, chained at the waist, and shackled on his legs, and the van had inadequate ventilation and no seat belts. He also stated that the officer driving the vehicle drove recklessly, that there was a smoky smell inside, and that he was prevented from using an asthma inhaler. The court found that the prisoner failed, in his federal civil rights lawsuit, to meet the physical injury requirement of 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1997e(e), as his complaints of back pain, headache, and temporary chest pain were minimal. The court ruled that the statute applied because the prisoner was in custody even though the injuries took place outside the prison. The statute would not bar a claim for injunctive relief, but the plaintiff prisoner could not show that he would again be a passenger in a vehicle operated by the defendant company. Quinlan v. Personal Transport Services Co., #08-14121, 2009 U.S. App. Lexis 12224 (Unpub. 11th Cir.).
     A prisoner out on bond was arrested on other charges, and, while in custody, was scheduled to appear in court on the first case. He was taken to the courthouse, but claimed that he was later charged with failure to appear because a deputy and a sergeant refused to transport him to the courtroom. His federal civil rights claim over this was properly dismissed, as the facts showed, at most, negligence in failing to properly determine that he should be taken to the courtroom for his hearing. This did not show a violation of civil rights or denial of access to the courts. Mills v. Connors, #07-1524, 2009 U.S. App. Lexis 7481 (Unpub. 10th Cir.).
     A prisoner who was taken to a medical center for an appointment was injured as she stepped on a stepstool to exit from a transport van after having been restrained during the transport process with leg shackles and belly chains. She was thrown forward while exiting and landed on her face on the ground. Damages of $62,125 were awarded for a shoulder surgery, physical therapy, future lost wages, a permanent scar, and pain and suffering. Stewart v. Ohio Dept. of Rehabilitation and Correction, #2005-05591, 2009 Ohio Misc. Lexis 21 (Ohio Ct. of Claims).
     When prisoners were injured in a vehicle accident while on the bus being transported to a work assignment, claims for their injuries were work-related, had to be filed against the Federal Bureau of Prisons under the Inmate Accident Compensation Act, 18 U.S.C.S. § 4126, so that claims the prisoners filed under the Federal Tort Claims Act were properly dismissed. Baynes v. U.S.A., No. 07-6352, 2008 U.S. App. Lexis 21775 (Unpub. 6th Cir.).
     In prisoner's lawsuit for injuries he allegedly suffered when the van he was traveling in was rear-ended by a vehicle driven by a correctional officer, even if the officer had been speeding, that only constituted, at most, negligence, which could not be the basis for a federal civil rights lawsuit. Further, the alleged failure to have seat belts installed in the van was not a violation of the prisoner's constitutional rights. Further proceedings allowed, however, as to whether officers acted with deliberate indifference after the accident, based on such factors as how long the inmate was detained at a facility after the accident, and whether the prisoner suffered injuries on the basis of an alleged delay in his treatment following the accident. Oliver v. Brooks, No. 5:06-cv-320, 2006 U.S. Dist. Lexis 90676 (M.D. Ga.). [N/R]
     An Alaska state statute which required that a prisoner, upon release be returned to the place of his arrest was satisfied by returning him to the nearest community to his actual home where he was arrested when his home was 3.5 miles by footpath or skiff from the nearest community. Wilson v. Department of Corrections, No. S-11120, 127 P.3d 826 (Alaska 2006). [N/R]
     Placement of leg irons on prisoner during escorted medical trip did not violate prisoner's clearly established constitutional rights. Prison officials used their best judgment in applying such restraints to this prisoner during the transport, and the officers did not deliberately inflict pain on the prisoner in the manner in which the restraints were placed. Perez Olivo v. Gonzalez, No. CIV.01-1515, 384 F. Supp. 2d 536 (D. Puerto Rico, 2005). [N/R]
     Correctional officer was not shown to have acted with deliberate indifference when he allegedly backed a van in which a prisoner was being transported into another vehicle, injuring him. The officer had to act quickly to react to unforeseen traffic circumstance and decide how best to move the van away from oncoming traffic. Alexander v. Perrenoud, No. 04-3846, 134 Fed. Appx. 938 (7th Cir. 2005). [N/R]
     Failure to provide prisoner with a seatbelt while transporting him, while handcuffed, in bus, did not violate his constitutional rights. Additionally, claims that he was injured through negligent or reckless operation of the bus by the driver could not be pursued as federal civil rights claims. Prisoner could proceed, however, on his claims that prison medical personnel were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs caused by his injuries in the accident. Carrasquillo v. City of New York, 324 F. Supp. 2d 428 (S.D.N.Y. 2004). [N/R]
     Sheriff's refusal to transport a pretrial detainee to the courthouse for a civil personal injury case unrelated to his criminal case did not violate his right of access to the courts. Sheriff's action was not taken for a punitive purpose and had a rational relationship to a legitimate interest in keeping detainees in jail unless absolutely necessary. Simmons v. Sacramento County Superior Court, No. 01-16309, 318 F.3d 1156 (9th Cir. 2003). [2003 JB Jun]
     295:108 Prisoner's claim that he was negligently injured while being transported in a sheriff's bus from a prison to a court proceeding was insufficient, even if true, to support a federal civil rights lawsuit for a violation of due process rights. Johnson v. City of Philadelphia, #00-0150, 2001 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 2520 (E.D.Pa.).
     278:26 Department's action of purchasing patrol wagons without safety nets and using them to transport detainees did not constitute deliberate indifference to a substantial risk of serious harm; no federal civil rights liability for injuries detainee suffered when thrown about by vehicle motions after being placed in wagon with his hands cuffed behind his back. Spencer v. Knapheide Truck Equipment Co., #98-3717, 183 F.3d 902 (8th Cir. 1999).
     225:139 Federal appeals court rules that trial court did not have authority to order state prison officials to transport prisoner 200 miles away for medical examination needed as evidence in federal civil rights suit against county jail facility. Ivey v. Harney 47 F.3d 181 (7th Cir. 1995).

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